The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 56: 489 - 497 (2012)

Vol 56, Issue 6-7-8

Special Issue: The Hydra Model System

Interstitial stem cells in Hydra: multipotency and decision-making

Published: 8 June 2012

Charles N. David*

Department Biologie II, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Planegg-Martinsried, Germany


Interstitial stem cells in Hydra constitute a population of multipotent cells, which continuously give rise to differentiated products during the growth and budding of Hydra polyps. They also give rise to germ cells in animals undergoing sexual differentiation. Cloning experiments have shown that interstitial stem cells are multipotent. In vivo tracing of stem cell lineages has revealed that stem cells divide symmetrically to yield two stem cells or asymmetrically to yield one stem cell daughter and one daughter cell which initiates nerve or nematocyte differentiation. Following commitment, some nerve cell precursors migrate from the body column into the head or foot region, thus giving rise to the high density of nerve cells observed in these regions. Stem cell proliferation is regulated by changes in the self-renewal probability and is controlled by stem cell density. Nerve cell commitment is controlled by several peptides including the Head Activator. Factors affecting nematocyte commitment are not known, but wnt and notch signaling are both required for differentiation of committed precursors.


Hydra, interstitial cell, stem cell, multipotency, germline, nerve cell, nematocyte

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